Your "ClusterFlux" GPS

Friday - 12/16/2011, 2:00am EST

Once again history repeats itself, the Great Government Shutdown of 2011 is going to be headed off at the last minute. The same thing happened last April. In all likelihood, Congress will reach a spending deal before the midnight Friday deadline. And all will be well.

Until the next time.

Whatever happens, Republicans will claim victory over the Democrats who are out to ruin the country, or at least not help it very much.

Democrats will claim victory over the Republicans who are out to ruin the country, or at least not help it very much.

Each side will paint the other side as losers. At least they each got one thing right.

Shutdowns, or the serious threat of them, are both laughable and sad. They combine the worst elements of a really bad performance by a really bad comedian with the sober side of soccer when the Mayans allegedly played using human heads. In the 2011 version, the comics are elected officials who play a game of chicken by threatening to cut off services — and paychecks.

By now, most federal workers know the rules of a shutdown. They've seen or have access to the OPM Q&A dealing with things like pay, vacation, health benefits and retirements. There are also updated rules you can check out. If you don't need it this time, save those links. This will happen again.

And again.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

By Jack Moore

In the U.S., getting a lump of coal is about the worst fate that can befall a brat at Christmastime, according to our holiday traditions. But in Austria, they don't play around. Snot-nosed kids there face the myth of Krampus, a horned, hairy beast who steals bad children's toys and has even been known to throw them in a sack and dump them in the river, according to Mental Floss.


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Bipartisan agreement is near on a massive $1 trillion-plus year-end spending package and should be reached in time to avert a government shutdown this weekend, according to congressional leaders.

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The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee introduced a bill that cuts 10 percent of the federal workforce to avoid the first year of automatic cuts to the Defense Department.